« PreviousContinue »
THE POINT OF DEPARTURE IN THE RIGHT COURSE.
“ For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world
are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead ; so that they are without excuse : because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful ; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to unclean. ness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.”_Rom. i. 20—24.
The moralist, in giving us an insight into the corruption of human nature, stops short of its origin—but the Apostle lays his finger on the exact point, at which our nature diverged from the right path — man's degradation a retribution for his having degraded God in his conceptions of Him-nature might have given him true conceptions of God, but he could not rise to such conceptions idolatry the fundamental sin—the quick deterioration of idolatryif the point of departure for vice be an unworthy conception of God, the point of departure for virtue must be a worthy conception of Him-faith the spring of all virtue-how faith in God must flow out of, and resolves itself into, high conceptions of His characterthe child's faith in its parents analysed—the Syrophænician's faith in Christ analysed—she had gained her conceptions of God from a devout observation of His dealings in Nature and Providencehow the Lord's Prayer teaches that lofty notions of God are the chief ingredient in forming the character to righteousness—the Psalmist's reference to the lessons taught by nature—the reference to them in the Book of Job-error of Christians in despising the revelation made in Nature—on similar principles, they might despise the Old Testament, and make light of Our Lord's Parables-study the Gentiles' Bible, as well as that of the Jews and that of the Christians
35 CHAPTER V.
THE EXPERIMENTAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE END OF
ALL CHRISTIAN ENDEAVOUR.
“ Increasing in the knowledge of God."-Col. i. 10.
Time and energy saved by apprehending clearly, before we start, the end of religious endeavour—the end is such an appreciation of the beauty of God's character as satisfies the soul, in the absence of all earthly sources of happiness—St. Philip's petition to Christ, and its unconscious depth--unsatisfactoriness of created good-but there must be a good, which is capable of contenting the soul, because God creates no strong instinct without something corresponding to it—even the Atonement is only a means to communion with God—the question raised and answered, “Does not the Decalogue give us two ends of religious endeavour?”-how the love of our neighbour resolves itself into the love of God-practical use of the subject, as showing what religious exercises are likely to yield the largest return—I. how the knowledge of God may be gained by continually referring to Him in ejaculatory prayerII. also by constant meditation on Holy Scripture—III. also by the discipline of life, and God's providential dealings with us our knowledge of God is to be thought of as progressive on the other side of the grave as well as on this
THE END OF THE COMMANDMENT, AND THE IMPORTANCE
OF KEEPING IT IN VIEW.
“ Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart,
and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned : from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling." -1 Tim. i. 5, 6.
The metaphor used by St. Paul in speaking of the “end of the
OF THE VARIOUS SENTIMENTS EMBRACED IN THE LOVE
“ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy
mind."--LUKE X. 27.
The love of God being our end in religion, it is proposed to
OF THE AFFINITY BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, IN REGARD
OF MAN'S WANTS AND GOD'S FULNESS.
“ In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and
cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and
drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. . . Many
of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of
a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ.”
-JOHN vii. 37, 38. 40, 41.
The words of Christ satisfied a certain yearning in the souls of
His hearers the secret affinity between parties in friendship, in
virtue of which one supplies what the other needs—friendship
results from the attraction of related dissimilars-affinities in
Nature between totally distinct objects—affinity between God and
man, by which they are reciprocally necessary to one another-
I. man's need of God—need which all the creatures have of God,
in order to their being and well-being-man’s intellectual craving
after the Infinite-man reaching forth after truth, but unsatisfied
with every truth he reaches-God is Light, and He alone therefore
Man, alone of all creatures, made in God's Image—from the